Thomas Downey High School

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Thomas Downey High School
1000 Coffee Rd.
California, United States
Coordinates 37°39′26″N 120°58′30″W / 37.657138°N 120.974922°W / 37.657138; -120.974922
School type Public
Opened September, 1951
School district Modesto City Schools
Principal Richard Baum
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 2,500
Hours in school day 6-8
Campus type suburban
School colour(s) Navy Blue, White, Light Blue
Song Downey Hymn
Athletics Football, Volleyball, Golf, Cross Country, Soccer, Waterpolo, Tennis, Basketball, Wrestling, Baseball, Softball, Track, Swimming
Mascot Knight


Newspaper Knight's Realm
Yearbook Shield
Feeder schools La Loma Jr. High, Roosevelt Jr. High, Hanshaw Middle School

Thomas Downey High School (TDHS) is a High School in Modesto, California. It is one of the seven high schools in Modesto. George Lucas, Joe Rudi, Tony Graziani, and Olympian and American Discus Record Holder Suzy Powell, are some of its notable graduates.

One of the six high schools in Modesto, Thomas Downey High is the second oldest in the city. Its mascot is the Knight, but they are sometimes humorously referred to as the "Downey Ducks."[citation needed]

The movie American Graffiti, written and directed by Downey graduate George Lucas, is based in Modesto but filmed in Petaluma, California. The school that students in the film attend is called "Dewey High", but is actually Petaluma High School, the architecutral twin to Downey High. "Dewey High" is a likely reference to Downey.

Downey's yearbook and newspaper have received awards. Yearbook adviser John Scott was one of three finalists for the Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year award in 2007.

The Agriculture Department at Thomas Downey was first created to work the school's early orchards. The orchards have been since cut down, with the department serving as the main welding area for the students of TDHS. Proficient students in welding go on to competitions for the National FFA Organization. If students win competitions, they have a chance to be recognized by superiors in the welding industry. Companies include West-Mark, Caterpillar, and others. Students also raise animals for the Stanislaus County Fair, hoping to gain a profit. The projects range from 3 to 7 months and focus on gardening, animals, and home improvement. Students also have the opportunity to take a floral design class in which students design and sell arrangements.

The school has designated dress-up days during fall and winter homecoming weeks, Unity Week, and Red Ribbon week. A large rally is usually thrown at the beginning of each year for fall homecoming, where dance performances are given and homecoming court nominees play games meant to be somewhat embarrassing, but all in good fun for the spirit of Homecoming Week.


In 2008 the Thomas Downey High boys' varsity basketball team was crowned 2008 MMC (Modesto Metro Conference) Champions by beating Modesto High and had an inner league record of 13–2.

On Saturday, February 23, 2008, the Downey Science Bowl Blue Team won the Central Valley Regional Science Bowl Competition. They defeated the other 23 teams from the area.

The Downey High Boys Soccer team has won the MMC (Modesto Metro Conference) in 2008, 2010, and 2011, and had a section final appearance in 2007.

The Downey High Baseball team won the MMC in 2011 for the first time with a league record of 13-2, and overall record of 20-7-1. Blake Smith (class of 2006) currently plays in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as an outfielder for the Double A Chattanooga Lookouts. Smith was drafted in the second round by the Dodgers in the 2009 MLB draft out of UC Berkeley.

In 2012, The Thomas Downey High Football team won the Modesto Metro Conference for the first time in school history with a record of 6-0-0. Overall, the team finished 10-2-0, with a victory over State Champions Central Catholic 45-42, and the school's first playoff victory in 25 years--a 41-6 victory over Jesse Bethel High of Vallejo, CA.


Downey is also notable for its strong tradition in choral singing. Downey has five choirs: Concert Choir (mixed ensemble), Madrigals (advanced mixed ensemble), Knightengales (advanced women's ensemble), Knights(men's ensemble), and Gloriana (beginning women's ensemble). The choirs usually perform three concerts each year: Knight Magic in fall, the holiday concert in the winter, and the spring concert in spring. They also perform at various locations throughout the year and especially throughout the holiday season. The choirs also go on an annual choir tour to Southern California in the spring.